“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.” – Titus 2:11-12
Recently my news feed has flared up with a few things – people arguing about a religious freedom law and hundreds of photos of teens from downtown Canton & rural Northeast Ohio who were a part of a local retreat I was blessed to be a part of. As I watched the weekend unfold while those I knew continued on in a hot debate, I experienced turmoil within me. There were things happening I didn’t like – and I have been searching myself because I don’t know if it is me or if this is of God. So I am writing this – because I can’t shake this.
If we have experienced the Gospel we believe that only God can change our lives – and that it is never about rules or laws – Jesus came because we could never fulfill the law. Romans 3 reminds us law brings knowledge of sin (v20) all have fallen short (v23) but are justified through His grace – as a gift. (v24)
If no law can ever change us – is the most important thing in our lives to side with political laws or to share the story of God – a story of grace, a story of changed lives, a story of hope. If the only time I hear from Christians is when they are passionate about a law that makes “following Jesus” more convenient for them – I am not experiencing the Gospel. I don’t follow Jesus because there is no threat to my life – there is and will always be a cost (Luke 9) and will result in possible imprisonment (Acts 5) death (Acts 7) and other persecution (1 Peter 4).
The truth of the Gospel is no law can ever save us – so no law passed into existence by man can somehow change a nation of people. If we want a political document to do the work of living on mission with God – bringing his Good News to people through conversations, meals, relationships, and a whole lot of time – we are sorely confused about what it means to follow Jesus. A law can never take the place of men, women, and children faithfully devoted to love those who are farthest from us – because they love Jesus more than anything else in life and desire to make His name known.
So what if we channeled the passion we find when something politically upsets us like religious laws or the chemicals in our food – and instead funneled that passion into radically loving others and bringing them the good news of Jesus – which can never come through a law.
What if we became servants of all – just as Jesus became a servant of those who wanted nothing to do with Him – when we were yet sinners, He died for us. What would it look like for us to mirror that love? To be servants to all – regardless of where they are know in belief of a God who is greater and will bring them to Him in time. Instead of waiting until they know Jesus – what if I baked a cake for this gay couple in hopes that they come to know Jesus? What if I showed them a radical love they had never experienced? What if I ate meals with them and shared not how bad they were but how bad I was – and how Jesus changed me? The hope he gave me?
What if I didn’t lump certain sins to be the worst but sought holiness in my own life, my family’s life, and through this allowed Jesus to radically change me? What if I surrendered the idols in my life of my job, my money, my kid [to be], my wife, my computer – and instead focused on Christ and those around me?
Jesus is the only one who can change – and Jesus is all I need. I don’t need Jesus and a political stance. I don’t need Jesus and a law that gives me religious freedom. If I truly follow Jesus – I follow him regardless of my nation’s laws. I follow Him regardless of fear of my life. I follow Him and Him alone. I serve and love all waiting for moments not to condemn but to share this great story – this really good news – of a God which is so much greater than the idolators, sexually deviant, liars, thieves, self-righteous, drunkards, impure, wrathful, and all of the flesh.